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How do forests benefit Canadians?

Forests provide a wide range of economic, social and environmental benefits. The forest sector continues to be a major contributor to Canada’s economy. The sector provides income for local workers in 2,400 communities, contributes $25.2 billion to nominal GDP, supports more than 300 forest-reliant communities and directly employs more than 184,000 Canadians. Forest ecosystems also provide important biodiversity habitat; supply goods and services that can drive sustainable growth; and are an essential part of the solution to climate change. Sustainably managed forests, and the wood products produced from them, provide important pathways to manage carbon and help mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Key sustainability indicators

Explore the report to find information on the key sustainability indicators:

  • Forest sector employment: Annual indicator of direct employment in the forest sector. This indicator is an important measure of how the forest sector contributes nationally to the economic and social welfare of Canadians.
  • Forest sector average earnings: Annual average earnings in the forest sector. Trends in average earnings indicate the overall importance of the sector to the economy, especially when compared with other industries.
  • Forest communities: Percentage of people working and living within Canada’s forests. Forests provide a range of important economic, cultural and environmental benefits for many Canadian rural and urban communities (download the report for more details).
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Forest sector employment

Forest sector direct employment, 2010–2020

Graph summary

Between 2010 and 2018, total employment fluctuated around 205,000 jobs, with a high of 211,000 in 2010 and a low of 199,000 in 2012, with no clear increasing or decreasing trend during those years. In 2019, total employment in the forest sector was 202,000 jobs, and in 2020, total employment dropped to a low of 184,000 jobs.

The pulp and paper product manufacturing subsector experienced the largest loss of employment between 2010 and 2020, with 64,000 people employed in 2010 and 50,000 employed in 2020.

The number of jobs in the wood product manufcturing subsector grew steadily from 2010 to 2018, when 99,000 people were employed by the subsector. Since then, the number of jobs has decreased to about 87,500.

The number of people employed in the in-forest activities subsector decreased from about 56,000 people in 2009 to about 46,500 people in 2020.

Graph data

Table showing direct employment in the forest sector for each year from 2010 to 2020 for three subsectors: pulp and paper product manufacturing, wood product manufacturing and in-forest activities.

Year Pulp and paper product manufacturing Wood product manufacturing In-forest activities
2010 64,210 90,880 56,275
2011 60,180 86,400 57,980
2012 57,795 88,170 53,130
2013 58,085 91,390 53,145
2014 58,015 90,625 52,730
2015 57,050 91,080 52,745
2016 54,415 96,610 55,040
2017 56,230 98,655 54,445
2018 56,150 99,215 55,280
2019 52,765 96,655 52,980
2020 50,245 87,655 46,610

Forest sector average earnings

Average earnings in the forest sector compared with all manufacturing sectors, 2010–2020

Graph summary

Average annual earnings for the forestry and logging subsector rose steadily from a low of $49,000/year in 2010 to over $52,000/year in 2020.

Average annual earnings for the pulp and paper product manufacturing subsector rose between 2010 and 2019, but with more annual variability than the other forest subsectors. Average annual earnings were lowest at $56,000/year in 2014 and rose to $63,000/year in 2019, but had a notable drop in 2018 ($57,000/year). In 2020, another notable drop occurred to $58,000/year.

Average annual earnings for the wood product manufacturing subsector rose steadily from a low of $44,000/year in 2010 to almost $49,000/year in 2020, with a spike in 2017 of $51,000/year.

Average annual earnings across all manufacturing sectors have remained steady from 2010 to 2020 at about $50,000/year. In 2020, the average net annual earnings across all maufacturing sectors was $51,000/year.

Graph data

Table showing the average annual earnings per person, in 2012 dollars, for three forest subsectors (forestry and logging, pulp and paper product manufacturing, and wood product manufacturing) compared to the average annual earnings per person for all manufacturing sectors from 2010 to 2020.

Year Forestry and logging Pulp and paper product manufacturing Wood product manufacturing All manufacturing
2010 48,910 60,335 44,311 49,826
2011 48,813 60,188 45,093 49,282
2012 48,700 59,670 46,413 49,627
2013 50,691 60,766 46,196 50,152
2014 49,392 56,150 45,777 50,359
2015 51,901 60,738 47,070 51,505
2016 51,740 63,057 47,762 51,389
2017 51,063 60,059 50,528 50,535
2018 52,166 57,013 46,098 49,394
2019 52,529 63,168 46,683 50,489
2020 52,434 58,206 48,561 51,022
Sources and information

See Sources and information in the downloadable report for detailed sources.

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